The Atlanta Braves, somewhat surprisingly, won the 2021 World Series after an impressive playoff campaign that included victories over the Milwaukee Brewers, Los Angeles Dodgers, and Houston Astros.
We say “somewhat surprisingly” not because they weren’t a quality team: they were; but because their regular season was far from ideal.
With an 88-73 record, the Braves were the worst division winner in all of baseball.
But that didn’t stop them from shining when it mattered most.
The question is: can they do it again?
Can they repeat as World Series champions in 2022?
The answer is yes: they can.
Winning Two Titles In A Row It’s Hard, But Not Impossible
Repeating is not an easy task: no team has ever done it since the 1999-2000 New York Yankees.
The playoffs are just a tiny sample size, which gives way to variance and randomness.
That doesn’t mean the teams that win the World Series aren’t good: quite the contrary.
But winning in October has some extra requirements, with excellent pitching, timely hitting, and a bit of luck being among the most important.
The 2021 Braves were special in so many ways: they lost their star, Ronald Acuna Jr., to a torn ACL in late July and they looked doomed.
Freddie Freeman, of course, got white-hot in the postseason, too.
But even if they don’t bring back Freeman (he is currently a free agent), the Braves have enough talent and pitching to make a run at another championship in 2022.
— Roger (@Jr22944310) January 1, 2022
They should get back pitcher Mike Soroka, who had a brilliant debut season in 2019 but has had tough luck dealing with an Achilles injury after that.
And they have an army of talented young hurlers ready to contribute if needed: Ian Anderson, Kyle Muller, Tucker Davidson, Max Fried, Huascar Ynoa, and Kyle Wright, all led by star Fried and veteran Charlie Morton.
They Have A Solid Roster
Atlanta’s pitching depth is the envy of many contenders around the league.
Imagine if they complement their already good offense with Freeman.
Acuna, Ozzie Albies, Dansby Swanson, Austin Riley, Duvall, and Marcell Ozuna form a pretty good offensive core, but adding Freeman to the equation would improve their already good odds of making the playoffs.
Freeman hit .300/.393/.503 with 31 home runs in the 2021 regular season, then added another five homers in October play.
He is reportedly asking for a six-year, $180 million contract, and Atlanta is reportedly reluctant to go that far on the years, mostly.
In case they fail to re-sign their star man, Atlanta has inquired about the availability of first baseman Matt Olson, currently on the Oakland Athletics.
Olson is a stud, but his acquisition cost has rebuffed several teams, including the Braves.
For now, Freeman is still on the market, free to sign with any team.
Atlanta remains his likely destination, though, and if the reunion happens, the Braves will be very hard to beat come October.
Yankees are definitely interested in Freddie Freeman but like most they have a hard time seeing the Braves let him get away (me: and if he does go, his hometown Dodgers make the most sense)
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) November 30, 2021
Even if Freeman is snatched by any other team, Atlanta has enough depth and firepower to make a serious run at their second consecutive World Series.
It won’t be easy, but they do have a chance.